August 21, 2014
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) - A Southern California exotic pet breeder who had 20,000 dead and dying rats and reptiles at his business has avoided jail time but was ordered to pay more than $190,000 in restitution.
The Orange County Register reports 55-year-old Mitchell Steven Behm has been sentenced to five years' probation and 200 hours' community service.
Behm owned Global Captive Breeders of Lake Elsinore, which sold exotic snakes and reptiles and raised rats for reptile food.
Authorities say they found horrendous conditions when they went to the business in 2012 following an investigation.
On Wednesday a judge ordered Behm to pay more than $102,000 to the city and about $88,000 to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which uncovered the conditions at the business and helped with the cleanup.
Behm's partner, David Delgado, will be sentenced in May.
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